Q&A: Marc Maron on podcasting, standup and thoughtful critics

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Westword: So I figured we could just start with the "idea" of the podcast and its freeform nature.

Marc Maron: Well, the podcast is about the freest medium I've ever experienced because the audience is just you. It's just one listener. It's just me in that room. I'm not standing in front of a crowd of people, I'm not worrying about when laughs are coming, I don't have to self-censor -- language wise or subject wise -- and I improvise most of it. So it's very satisfying because I find new thoughts about things I never had in me. When people get into it, it makes me grateful in the sense that this is about as honest as I can be in a creative medium and if people like it then they like me.

WW: Has it changed the way you've done standup, since people have gotten to "know" you better from the podcast?

MM: I've always been pretty candid in terms of standup, but I certainly can't pretend -- what's happening is that a lot of people who like the podcast are coming to see me do standup -- and look, I know how many people listen to the podcast and I know how many CDs I've sold in my life, so there's a big difference there. So when people come to see me and don't know me as a standup, I think they come with the attitude of "I hope he can do it, I like the podcast, but I wonder if he knows how to do this standup thing." Obviously I do, I've been doing it a long time. It's a whole different set of muscles, talking to a person and doing standup on a stage are very different. It's changed my approach. Other than that, I feel more comfortable and a lot of the stuff I talk about of the podcast evolves into standup material. So in a sense it's helping me generate material.

WW: Your show has a very conversational, insider-baseball aspect to it, but it doesn't seem to exclude the listener even if they're not into comedy. Is that something you watch out for?

MM: I don't think about. I don't think about who the audience is because I've learned there is no way to characterize who my audience is. There's no demographic, there's no gender, there's no age. There's just no way for me to even wrap my brain around tailoring anything. When I'm talking insider-baseball, if that's what it turns out to be, I'm talking to a person who does a job with me. If you're not a comedy nerd, the challenges of a job are the same as the challenges of any job in a certain way. So I think the actual conversation about the obstacles in life or in work or creativity are a human conversation. If I try to do anything, it's to make it a real conversation, so whatever it's about, it's about.

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Thorin Klosowski
Contact: Thorin Klosowski